black and white nautical stripe dress with white blazer

nautical summer outfit: Breton stripe dress with white blazer

white Zara blazer with stripe dress at 14 weeks pregnant

14 weeks pregnant: bumpshot

Since announcing my pregnancy, I’ve had quite a few comments from kind people saying how much they’re looking forward to seeing my maternity style…

… and all I can think when I read those comments is, “Wow, these people are going to be seriously disappointed!”

These photos, you see, were taken on a good day. Most days are NOT good days, because, the truth is, I’ve been kinda struggling to know how to dress a body that no longer looks or feels like mine any more.

I didn’t really expect to feel like this.

In retrospect, I probably should have: I mean, I’ve had this body for a very long time now, and I’m not used to sharing it. (Also, much like Joey from Friends, AMBER DOES NOT SHARE. Nuh-uh) What’s more, with one notable exception, I’ve been roughly the same size/shape for most of my adult life: sure, my weight will go up and down by a pound or two (or, you know, three or four) from time to time, especially during vacations and at Christmas, etc, but, for the most part, I know my body, and I know how to dress it, so it really shouldn’t be a surprise that as big as change as this one would kind of throw me for a loop, then, should it?

It did, though. See, the thing is, I’ve always had a bit of a pot belly. ALWAYS. Even at my very thinnest (Right after university, when I lost over a stone due to stress, and my mum threatened to take me to the doctor…) I STILL had that little bit of a belly, which meant I got to look both ill and pregnant, all at the same time: yay! Now, I’ve always been very, very self-conscious about that little pot, for the simple reason that it can make me look pregnant, even when I’m not. (I remember once, in my early twenties, a colleague took me aside at work one day and said, “Look, I’m sorry to ask, but we’ve all been wondering: are you pregnant?” I legit DIED on the spot…) So, if I’m wearing something bodycon, I’ll always be wearing shapewear underneath. If I turn to the side, I’ll be sucking in my stomach (Since finding out I was pregnant, I’ve actually had to train myself NOT to do this: it’s just totally automatic now…). If there’s a new workout routine that promises to make my belly flatter, I’ll be trying it. And always, always, I’ll be feeling self-conscious, and just waiting for someone to ask me if I’m pregnant. Always.

And now, of course, I AM pregnant. At first, I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to do those progress shots you see women do, where they start off with a totally flat belly, and end up looking like there’s a watermelon up their jumper. My starting point would’ve looked much like other people’s 10 weeks, so THAT was out… but I thought the bump itself would more than make up for it, because finally, FINALLY, I wouldn’t have to worry about people assuming I was pregnant. Sure, my belly would be huge, but pregnant bellies are SUPPOSED to be huge, so who cares, right? I was really looking forward to wearing all of those bodycon dresses I usually feel so self-conscious in – and to not having to suck in my stomach, or wear the dreaded Spanx under them, either: it would be liberating! Or so I thought.

As it turns out though, that’s not quite how I’ve felt. Yes, I’ve been enjoying watching the bump grow, and having that little bit of reassurance that there is, in fact, something happening in there… it just turns out that I haven’t enjoyed other people watching the bump grow quite so much. In fact, it’s made me feel quite uncomfortable at times to have people constantly commenting on it, and touching it, and wanting to tell me how very very BIG it is. As I said to Terry last week, I know they mean well, and I also know that no one is trying to say I look “fat” or anything like that, but I’m not sure there can be many women who enjoy having their body shape constantly scrutinised and commented on, do they? It’s pretty weird, really, to go from having your body just be your body, no questions asked, to having it suddenly be the centre of attention, with people always wanting to talk about it, no matter how hard you try to change the subject.

And there’s the crux of the matter, really. It’s not about feeling “fat”, or not fitting into most of my clothes any more, and it’s definitely not about feeling embarrassed or ashamed, or not wanting to be pregnant. It’s just that, well, I don’t feel like ME right now, and the constant commentary on my growing belly is part and parcel of that. I’ve already noticed, for instance, that, for some people, it’s pretty much ALL they want to talk to me about. I can be talking about something totally unrelated to pregnancy, but still those people will find a way to make the conversation all about babies, or bellies, or whatever, and while I know they’re just excited (and probably assuming that’s all I’ll want to talk about too…), there’s a large part of me that wants to wave and say, “HI! I’m still in here, you know! I’m not just a belly! You can talk to me about other things, too!”

But it’s hard for people to look past the belly, and I suspect it’s only going to get harder as this pregnancy progresses – and harder still when the baby’s here, I suppose. Already I’ve had a few people address me as “mummy” or “mama”, which just feels so odd to me (I always have to resist the urge to say, “I AM NOT YOUR MOTHER, YOUNG WOMAN!”), but I’m guessing that’s something else I’ll just have to get used to. (Just to be clear, I’ll be perfectly happy for the BABY to call me “mummy”- as hilarious as that currently sounds to me – I’d just prefer for the people I DIDN’T give birth to to stick to “Amber”, is all…) Because the fact is, I don’t feel like ME right now.  I don’t LOOK like me. People don’t talk to me like they did before. It’s all change, really, and I’ve never been very good with change – which is where I suspect all of this is coming from, really. Add in the fact that I’m generally a very shy/reserved kind of person anyway  (I hate social kissing/hugging, or what I call the “Spotlight on James Brown” effect, where everyone in the room turns to stare at me…) so I absolutely hate being the centre of attention, with everyone focusing on the size of my belly – *cringe*!

I’m actually a bit scared to publish this post, now that I’ve written it. I know that some of the people who will read it are firmly in the, “Pregnancy is magical and you shouldn’t ever say anything negative about it!” camp, but, well, that wouldn’t be me either, would it, and as I said in this post, this is such a huge, huge change for me (And I’m not just talking about my belly here, either…) I want to be able to write honestly about it, rather than just doing the whole #SOBLESSED thing that I know is expected of me right now.

I am #SOBLESSED (*cringe*) of course, and I wouldn’t want anyone to assume I think otherwise. But I’m also #SOSCARED and #SOSTILLADJUSTING, and I’m sure I can’t be the only one who’s ever felt like that… can I?

[P.S. My lovely sponsors at Shopbop are having a two-day sale, starting today, and offering up to 25% off: go check it out!]
WEARING:

By Malene Birger dress (old)

ZARA blazer

Christian Louboutin shjoes

3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli mini satchel*

[MY PREGNANCY DIARY]

41 Comments
  1. how about a bodycon dresses printed with the words ‘touch the bump only if you want to lose a hand’?

    Reason number 848281 why I couldn’t ever do this. The first person who tried to touch me/my bump/use a cutesy voice/ask how the bubba-bubba is doing without a fucking gold-edged invitation would be a little bit stabbed and I would be a lot bit arrested.

    1. “The first person who tried to touch me/my bump/use a cutesy voice/ask how the bubba-bubba is doing without a fucking gold-edged invitation would be a little bit stabbed and I would be a lot bit arrested.”

      😂😂😂
      This made me laugh so much – thank you!

      1. I’m laughing too – thank you for the humour Leah, I am with you on the personal space thing and know that lots of people think a pregnant woman is suddenly public property?! How rude.

        Amber – you still look like you even if you don’t feel like it! x

  2. I know what you mean Amber. Being addressed as Mummy by anyone other than my children always irked me! And of course we will want to still be treated as ourselves not just seen as a pregnant person. I think being pregnant does feel strange as it’s not our everyday state, at least for each of us as an individual. People do seem to feel very free to comment and give advice and share their own experiences. I think most of the time they are delighted and perhaps a little fascinated by the process of being pregnant and for most it isn’t something we see every day. It also reminds those a of us who’ve been pregnant of being there ourselves. I never really feel comfortable being the centre of attention so I know how you feel. It is a time of great change and readjustment as you rightly say and it’s your own experience that really matters. Best wishes.

    1. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels like this! I always used to notice other women suddenly being addressed exclusively as “mama” as soon as they got pregnant/had kids (I even see it happen to fashion bloggers or whatever who rarely even mentioned their pregnancy/kids, but who’d still always be “mummy” to everyone after that!) and it always seemed so strange to me, as if they’d suddenly stopped existing as individuals or something. It’s even stranger now that it’s actually happening to me: I know people are just excited, and I am too, obviously, I just want to still feel like me, at the same time!

  3. I get it completely. I didn’t think it would affect me so much (what with it being the second time round) but having gone through my transformation a couple of years ago I am not enjoying the “fat” phase before it goes to proper bump phase. I never had this the first time round and everyone is commenting on my tummy and I just don’t see it yet – unless it’s after dinner then I look proper pregnant lol.
    I need to get my head away from feeling fat but it is so strange

    1. I was actually just wondering how it must be for you, Mhairi, after everything you’ve been through – it must be such a different experience! I’ve been getting bump comments since really early on, and it’s taken a bit of getting used to!

  4. Ugh, I hate it how people think that a woman being pregnant is an excuse to get all touchy without permission. I don’t even like shaking people’s hands, so if some miracle occurred and I fell pregnant and people thought they automatically had some right to invade my space and touch my body without invitation? Oh hell no.

    1. Same here – I don’t mind handshakes, but I’m not a big fan of being touched: it wouldn’t really occur to me to try to touch someone else’s belly, either, so it always takes me a bit by surprise!

  5. Oh bless you, I was one of the ‘excited for maternity fashion posts’ commenters but no pressure I promise! I just figured you’d find lots of cute, bump appropriate clothes and mix-it up with existing cardis, blazers etc. That’s basically what I did with same handful of dresses last time around.

    I agree on the hands off state of mind, I hated anyone touching my stomach when I was pregnant unless it was husband, daughter, my mum or sister wanting to feel the baby kicking (and I appreciated my Mum and sister asking first!) as I’m not big on physical contact anyway to be honest. Apart from with my children obviously, I squish them up 🙂

    1. Oh, I don’t feel any pressure – I just think people will be disappointed, because I’ve been wearing leggings most of the time 😂

  6. I felt the same when I was pregnant, and I have very few photos of me as a result because I didn’t recognise my body any more.
    I think you work so hard to achieve each step, that when it actually happens it’s a bit of a shock. I spent a lot of time worrying about getting pregnant, so when it actually happened I felt very much ‘fuck! What do I do now?!’ and that has kind of stayed with me ever since!

  7. I remember going through a fair bit of this when I was pregnant with my daughter, but from another angle: I am a fat woman generally (it’s just my body, and how my genetics fell out, supported by docs, etc), so I am old hat at people constantly analyzing and feeling free to comment on my body in myriad ways, usually profoundly negative. But to have it come from the new angle was decidedly odd. It is normal for me to have people think it is fine to comment on my body, or to offer “advice” that was “kindly meant” (“have you tried [X fad diet]/[workout type]/[surgery”](!!!), etc.), but when I became pregnant, it took on a whole other life. I was accused of faking for a train seat, I was touched by complete strangers, and stared at intensely by coworkers who had once asked me during an elevator ride if I was expecting when I wasn’t (I cheerfully replied,”nope, just fat!”, after which I exited the elevator to horrified silence).

    People find the oddest entitlement to comment on, handle (!!! I have never understood acting on this impulse; that’s assault & battery, y’all!), speculate about, and generally try to take some collective ownership of the bodies of women, especially during pregnancy. (One of the things that contributes to why fertility/infertility is such a difficult time for so many, because of how free people feel to weigh in on anyone’s impending/suspected/planned/unplanned/etc childbearing)
    The one thing I wanted to say to you about it all is that no matter what someone else’s intentions may be, no matter how kindly based, if you are uncomfortable, it is *always okay* to say so and call people out. It is ok to defend your own personal space and comforts with people regardless of their intentions. People have no right to your body or to intrude upon or violate your comfort *even if out of happiness for you*, and you are under no obligation to allow it or excuse it, even if it makes them uncomfortable to be called out on it.

    (You can of course be kind about doing so if the situation warrants, but you don’t have to be that, either, if you don’t darn well feel like it)

    I am sure you already know all this, but I wanted to offer you support in reminding you that even if someone thinks they are sharing joy in your pregnancy or whatever, they are neither entitled to nor should they feel free to do things that make you feel unhappy or uncomfortable. Pregnancy is enough to be processing feelings over; other folks should respect you and your changing body more than to complicate that.

    1. no matter what someone else’s intentions may be, no matter how kindly based, if you are uncomfortable, it is *always okay* to say so and call people out. It is ok to defend your own personal space and comforts with people regardless of their intentions. People have no right to your body or to intrude upon or violate your comfort *even if out of happiness for you*, and you are under no obligation to allow it or excuse it, even if it makes them uncomfortable to be called out on it.

      THIS so much. I was actually talking about this with Terry last night… he’s much more easy going than I am, and is generally of the, “They mean well, so why say anything?” school of thought, but I’ve always felt that if you don’t tell someone they’re making you feel uncomfortable, they’ll never know, and will just keep doing it. I know if I was unwittingly making someone feel uncomfortable in some way, I’d rather know, so I could stop doing it!

      Also, your other point is really interesting. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve never had to deal with comments about my body until now, so it’s been enlightening and depressing to be on the receiving end of that – it’s just never appropriate to comment on someone else’s shape!

  8. Good on you for expressing this Amber! As one who is still scared and still adjusting (at 40wks+4…hurry up baby!) I can say that it does get a bit easier as you get used to having a beach ball precede you everywhere (That’s what I see when I look down now!). I wrote a post too about my pregnancy body struggles only a few weeks ago, the first part being early pregnancy which I struggled with, and the latter being about a maternity shoot I did when I finally started to feel proud of and comfortable in my pregnancy body. It might help you to read it gets easier (or at least did for me). Having said that, no longer anything comfortable about being pregnant and I just want our little one out asap! Pls cross your fingers for me! 😂 xx

  9. Thank you for letting us be part of your experience. Your writing is amazing and I love how honest and open you are with processing this journey.
    A bit of topic, but an important PSA: that “pot belly” you are talking about having even at your thinnest is your uterus leaning against your abdominal wall. So no matter how thin a woman is, there will always be a curve at the lower belly. Unless you engage your muscles of course. I guess if you are slender but still have that curve people are quicker at jumping to (wrong) conclusions that with someone who is generally curvy.

  10. I think it’s perfectly understandable to feel how your feeling! I never have a flat belly either so I know how you feel! My Dad always says I’ve got a spare tyre which is erm great x

    LuxeStyle

  11. Once a male colleague of mine (and also sort of a friend) told that he liked touching pregnant bellies, and it is totally not awkward since the belly is there because of the pregnancy. I pointed out that he would not try to touch my breasts in the same manner although they too were considerably bigger because of the pregnancy. He said I had a point and this made him reconsider his opinion on belly-touching 🙂

    1. OMG, that’s AWFUL! Great response, though 🙂

      I think quite a lot of people have the rationale that they’re touching a “baby”, not a belly, which makes it somehow OK. The thing is, though, at the stage I’m at, the baby is still lower down than where they’re grabbing, so it really is just my belly – and even if it wasn’t, it would still be MY body!

  12. The worst for me was when I went shopping for maternity wear once my bump was pretty big. I got practically hounded out of most of the shops with instructions to buy online (which I didn’t want to do because my body was unrecognizable to me and I didn’t know what would look good anymore). I ended up going to jojo mamon et bebe and spending a small fortune but had the best customer service ever and came away feeling a lot better about myself.

    1. Um, the “spending a small fortune” part of this makes the “hounded out of most of the shops” part amazing to me! Why would people do that? And, yes, one cannot shop for a different body online. Sheesh!

  13. If it’s not ok to touch you when you are not pregnant, why should it be ok to touch you when you are?! Bavk off people!

    I am not sure why you become public property the minute you are pregnant and (some) people feel free to discuss/ judge/touch you or your baby, but good luck with that. People do not seem to realise that the size of your bump is a very sensitive subject: Too small? Is baby ok? Too big? Is baby ok? And no, the size of the bump doesn’t mean anything about the size of the baby in it! Pregnant women do not need that.

    You care about your baby, from the moment you know s/he’s there, so you will worry. It’s such a natural thing to do.
    You look lovely amber, I just hope you feel as great as you look!

  14. As a fellow pot belly owner, I sympathise. Pregnancy seems to add a public property aspect to it that is strange. I too was asked if I was pregnant when I wasn’t, but recently made a similar faux pas when I asked one of of the school governors (at my grandson’s sports day) when her baby was due. She was wearing a body revealing sleeveless dress and looked about seven months. She was very gracious though, explaining it was her, her mother’s and sisters’ body shape. Then she whispered she was fifty, making me feel better that I thought she looked much younger, hence fecund. My only consolation was that at least I hadn’t tried to touch her.

    Being pregnant is weird, however wonderful. You are still you, and you will have lots of alien thoughts and concerns. You are not alone, what you are doing is expressing what many women feel (past and present). The only difference is that you are saying it. We need to express our experiences more.

    1. My daughter wore low rise jeans under her bump and baggy Tshirts during most of her pregnancy, so you wearing leggings seems perfectly fine and comfortable.

  15. I can totally relate. It really bothered me that being pregnant meant everyone thought they had the right to comment on my body – and what I was eating! And my waddle! That’s just what women want when they’re feeling a bit anxious and self-conscious. And on seeing that I was pregnant that was all people wanted to talk to me about – that was my life. It was the same when he was born – everyone wanted to talk to him and coo over him rather than ask how I was. Except other mums. Finding an awesome mum tribe changed my life 🙂

  16. Why, oh why, do people feel the need to touch pregnant bellies? I’ve never understood this. Or the person at worked who looked at me and exclaimed, “You are HUGE!” It’s a miracle that this person didn’t immediately burst into flames from the glare I gave.

    After 3 kids, unfortunately, I’ve never really gotten my body back. Of course that may be because I hate exercise and I love dessert. You, however, look fabulous.

    On a serious note, I wish it was highly published how much a baby will change your life, body, and relationships. Not all the changes are bad, but I felt unprepared for most of it (sorry!).

  17. I’ve always had the little pot belly too, I hear ya. But like you say it’s one thing being used to that and how to dress it and then having a belly people can’t stop talking about. I think I’d feel exactly the same way you do, I think if people constantly talked to me about the baby I’d go mad. I mean I haven’t been through it or anything, but just knowing how much I also hate most social ‘norms’, very much including small talk and strangers touching me… I think what you’re feeling is totally legit!!

    1. For me, it’s also partly that I’m still so anxious all the time that I’m not allowing myself to think too far ahead (Terry is the same, and he doesn’t have anxiety!), so the insistence on not letting me talk about anything other than BABYBABYBABY is actually really hard, and not just because of the whole “loss of identity” thing. I also hate most social “norms”, btw – I’m so glad to know it’s not just me!

  18. I suffer from chronic IBS so I always looks abut 6 months gone and have completely given up with the complete discomfort of tying to suck my stomach in. On the really bad days, I often hold my stomach in the way I see pregnant women do and people assume I am. Sometimes I feel guilty, but mostly I’m just relieved that people think theres a reason for my massively bloated stomach. Fairly sure I’d have a fit if someone tried to touch it, though.

  19. Oh I’m totally in agreement that your body (belly included) is off limits! Why do people think they can rub/touch/pat a pregnant woman’s belly??? As for comments, when I was pregnant with my third, my mother-in-law kept telling me “Oh my god you are huge”, which of course made me feel SO attractive! I think pregnancy hormones affect everyone surrounding the pregnant woman also! And thanks to the reader who wrote the PSA about pot bellies – I never knew that but have also never had a flat belly. I have been asked a few times if I was pregnant when I was just overweight, and if it’s a total stranger, I reply “It does look like it, right? The doctors swore the swelling would go down once I finished radiation but it doesn’t seem to be happening yet” – shuts them up them every time😊

  20. Yes! Being pregnant seems to make your body okay for public comment, which really threw me for a loop. The most awkward though was probably after pregnancy when everyone felt a need to comment on how quickly (er not quickly? Depended on the person commenting) I was losing the “baby weight.”

    Never feel like you have to be always #soblessed Pregnancy is the start of a birth not only of your child but a whole new facet of yourself too. It is normal and okay to not always be feeling blissful. I know I felt guilty of not always feeling so happy when I was pregnant and with a baby. Your honesty is appreciated, and I think helps normalize having complex feelings during this time in women’s lives.

  21. Ugh, even now that I have a visible child running around me, I still HATE people referring to me as “Mummy” – I AM still Sarah, despite this new facet to my identity. “Your mummy” is okay, if they’re addressing Matilda, and “Matilda’s mummy” is okay, if they’re addressing their own small child, but if they’re talking TO ME, then I want them to call me by my name!

  22. Love your honesty! Keep it up! There is so much I could write, but I’ll just say that the intersection/overlap of public and private where it concerns something as special, and emotional, as pregnancy can be very tricky for all. Politely, firmly and constantly keep making your feelings known.

  23. If you decide to nurse your baby, wait until you’ve been doing that for a whole year, on top of the strangeness of feeling like everyone is ‘owning you’ right now and you’ll be screaming to have your body to yourself finally! It was a long ago for me, I can remember how good that felt. And I can remember exactly what you’ve shared!

    You have a great blog by the way! You seem like one of those people that can walk into a room and everyone wants to be your friend! And that comes through here. Thanks for the fun.

  24. Gosh, I almost wrote this blog post last week! I’m now at 23 weeks and kind of popped about 2-3 weeks ago. I’m not naturally tiny, but I’m also not big & have spent the last 10 years getting used to my body, getting over insecurities, etc. Over the past couple of years I’ve started to like my body for the first time ever. I have mostly enjoyed the shape of being pregnant, though, and was actually thinking how cute I look with my bump…and then people started making comments about my bump, and now I’m all paranoid again! It’s strange how quickly I responded to it, actually, and have been trying to remind myself that I don’t care what other people think about how I look normally, so why should I now? It’s just so much harder now that people somehow feel entitled to comment on my appearance all the time. How does a bump make me public property? I’m not sure how I’ll deal with it as I get even bigger. And the touching…well, that only happened to me for the first time yesterday, and luckily it was someone I wasn’t particularly bothered by. Perhaps I just look sufficiently angry to put people off. Here’s hoping, ha!

  25. This is something that I’ve really struggled with; whilst I’ve enjoyed seeing my bump grow for some reasons (there’s a human in there! A tiny cute human!), it’s definitely not all sunshine and rainbows and I am very much looking forward to getting rid of it ASAP. People are so quick to comment, and it just makes you feel so conspicuous – even when they’re saying ostensibly nice things, I’d rather strangers (and sometimes even friends & family) didn’t comment on my body in any way shape or form. I found it really hard to dress my bump before about 20 weeks – it was big enough that very few of my regular clothes fitted but was too small for maternity-wear (most of which is kind of hideous anyway) so I just spent the whole time feeling out of sorts with my body, which when you’ve had a pretty good relationship with it (for the most part) in the past, is quite tricky to navigate. Finding some clothes that actually felt like me was such a big win, even though it was basically just a variation on ‘jeans and a t-shirt’ – and I tended to wear a giant scarf out of the house until it got too warm, so it hid the bump quite effectively from strangers on the bus/in shops etc. I think we expect a lot of women when it comes to pregnancy & birth & motherhood, and quash down a lot of the anxiety and struggles because babies are just so important and precious, but there’s definitely two sides to the bump-coin, for sure!

  26. I can feel your struggle on no longer feeling “you”! It’s exactly how I felt at the start of the pregnancy. After a whole life in the same body (old teen days dresses still fitting) I got pregnant 3 years ago at 36. I was still able to wear my jeans, but I can clearly remember how I was suddenly starting to feel uncomfortable in it. How my breast was exploding and I had to get new comfy bras, and while belly was getting big and feeling stretched in my clothes, how I was constantly and expecially looking for comfy and not stretching and itching underwear!😅

  27. Oh, how I understand! In fact, I just posted about this very topic yesterday! I am 33 weeks, and NOTHING in my life feels like “me” anymore- from the conversations I have to the body I am trying to dress everyday. And it is SO strange that now your body is the center of attention for everyone you meet. Now that I’ve experienced this belly obsession, I will forever alter how I speak to pregnant women (in other words, I’ll ask about ANYTHING else but their pregnancy, just to give them a break!) Hang in there, and don’t feel bad for complaining! This isn’t for the faint of heart!

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